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Letters from our LGBTQ+ community

The prospect of coming out can be really daunting. We asked our colleagues from the Rainbow network to cast their mind back to how it felt and share some words of advice with us.

Charese Clarke, Group Transformation
A letter to my younger self

“When I was younger, I was terrified of being gay. I knew I was drawn to other girls, but I found every excuse going to convince myself it didn’t mean anything. I didn’t let those feelings develop, I didn’t give them airtime or fully acknowledge them. I finally came out at 37 years old. It feels amazing.

To my younger self, I would say: life as a gay woman is going to be so wonderful, so fulfilling and it is the only way you will truly feel like yourself. Don’t be scared of this. Your family’s negative opinions of gay people are only so because they have no personal experience. Once they realise their own flesh and blood would be happier with a woman, their opinions will soften. It feels like you couldn’t possibly tell those close to you that you might be gay, but in reality, people will just want you to be happy. Also, it will be hard for you to find role models or opportunities to explore this side of yourself in the small town you are from. Do everything you can to explore the world and break free of the confines of the person you felt you needed to be at school. Put yourself in positions where nobody knows you and allow yourself to be something different.

Above all else; this is the way you were born. You can’t and shouldn’t escape these feelings and urges. They will ultimately bring you so much happiness and you’ll be able to use them positively in your professional life. Being honest with yourself first, and others later, will bring you more happiness than you can imagine.”


Ronald Davies, Group Transformation
A letter to my younger self

Ron was 30 when he opened up to his wife at the time and told her he was gay. It was a difficult time in his life but knowing that he was being true to himself pulled him through. He’s now happily remarried with a husband who he’s been with for over ten years.

“Dear young Ron,

A few wise words from an older self:

Stop worrying and start living: in a few years you’ll realise that life is just an ongoing series of events… try to live in the moment rather than wishing your life away. Believe it or not, it’s you who determines whether you see those events as problems, challenges or opportunities.

Feel the worry, feel the panic, feel the anxiety, and do it anyway. It’s the best way to move forward and the more you face your fears, the easier it will become. Work out some coping strategies to have up your sleeve (that you can deploy at the last moment if need be) but turn up and face the music – and even learn to dance a little. It’s the best approach every single time, I promise you. You might even find you come to enjoy it.

Forgive yourself… you deserve it. You’ve been doing the best you can with what you have. Be safe in the knowledge that you’ve learnt some things for next time, that you’ll fail again, and that’s ok. If you don’t fail occasionally, you’re not living, so relax. Take a risk. Be yourself. Get things wrong. You’re only human.”


A letter to my teenage daughter

“My daughter came out as bi six years ago. She’s now happily in a relationship, but she had a very traumatic times in her teens. If I could write a letter to her then, I would do everything I could to reassure her that things would be ok. I’d say: what’s the worst that can happen if you talk to your parents about your sexuality? As your mum, my job is to support you and I will love you whatever life choices you make. Your dad and I will welcome your future partner into the family, whoever they are.”


Rainbow, our LGBT+ colleague network

Our LGBTQ+ colleague network, Rainbow, plays a pivotal role in our approach, and with over 5,000 members and supporters, is one of the largest networks of its kind in the UK. Rainbow is committed to connecting, developing and supporting our LGBT+ colleagues across the Group.


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